Do you suffer from chronic blepharitis? This condition is very common. In fact, blepharitis is one of the most widely treated eye conditions.
The problem is, blepharitis treatment is rarely effective and many sufferers learn to just live with it rather than ever getting on top of it properly.
What is Blepharitis?
The word blepharitis literally means 'inflamed eye lids'. This means the margins of the eye lids, where the eye lashes grow, become red, flaky, crusty and puffy. Blepharitis is often mistaken for conjunctivitis or dry eye. This is a distressing and difficult condition to treat and there is currently no cure.
There are, however, some excellent treatment options.
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Symptoms of Blepharitis
Blepharitis symptoms include a gritty sensation and sore eye lids. The eye lids may be stuck together on waking. In more severe cases of blepharitis, deformity of the eyelids may occur resulting in the eyelashes growing inwards. It can be a recurring or chronic condition that needs to be attended to on an ongoing basis. Blepharitis can also be associated with a variety of lumps and bumps on the eye lids, including stye, hordeolum and chalazion.
What Causes Blepharitis?
The main causes of this eye condition are covered below.
Rosacea and Blepharitis
Blepharitis has its root cause in a skin condition, although it does impact severely on the eyes. This eye disease is commonly associated with skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. If you suffer from one of these ailments, chances are you also have blepharitis, ranging from mild to severe.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
Our oily tears are produced in a row of glands along our eye lids - the meibomian glands. They squeeze small amounts of oil into the tears each time we blink, and this oil is what prevents our watery tears from evaporating. If these glands become blocked, the eyes suffer. Blocked glands contribute to inflammation around the eye lids.
Blepharitis also occurs in association with Demodex. These are tiny parasitic mites that inhabit human facial skin, and are particularly at home in the eye lash follicles. They can only be seen with a high powered microscope. Demodex are found on practically every human face, over the age of 18, but they exist in far higher numbers (15 times more) in people with rosacea. Restoring mite populations to normal levels by managing the rocasea can result in a huge improvement in eye lid disease.
Everyone knows about plaque building up on teeth. Plaque is a bacterial biofilm that builds up and hardens onto the junctions of teeth and gums. Healthy food choices and regular brushing and flossing keeps plaque at bay, but for most effective prevention of gum inflammation, plaque should be professionally removed twice a year.
But how many of us clean our eye lids twice a day? In fact, a biofilm much like plaque builds up on the margins of the eye lids. The eye is normally a sterile environment, and having bacteria build up nearby leads to inflammation and irritation.
Biofilm can be managed in a number of ways, depending on severity.
Contaminated Eye Makeup
Eye makeup has a best-before date that should always be respected, and yet most women (mainly!) keep tubes of mascara, shadows and eye-liner for years, lying around in drawers. Bacteria can invest these products and their applicators. Change make-up at least annually and keep all brushes scrupulously clean.
What is the Best Treatment for Blepharitis and is there a Cure?
There is no cure for this eye disease, but the good news is that it can be managed. It is often a life-long condition that flares up now and then. The Eye Practice takes a particular interest in the effective management of chronic eye irritation, and our team can advise you on a treatment plan to manage blepharitis and keep your eyes comfortable.
Good eye lid hygiene starts with lid scrubs. These clear away the crusting around the base of the lashes. Most people do not know how to do this simple and effective blepharitis treatment effectively.
Homemade remedies such as baby shampoo, bicarbonate of soda etc can do more harm than good.
A gentle and effective purpose-made product such as Sterilid will dissolve away the crusting around the bases of your lashes without causing further inflammation. The frequency of lid scrubs should be recommended by your optometrist.
Warm compresses / lid massage
These are also things that the majority of people do not do effectively. Face-washers do not hold heat long enough for any beneficial effect. The purpose of warm compresses is to melt the secretions of the meibomian glands so they can flow more readily, rather than blocking the glands. Heat is best applied with a gel-filled eye-mask.
Ask your red-eye practitioner for full instructions on how to get the safest and most effectively treatment. The key thing with warm compresses is that they shouldn't be performed while the lids are inflamed.
Heat makes inflammation worse. The inflammation should be managed first (see below) and only then should warm compresses begin.
Lid massage can be performed immediately after warm compresses, or while you are in the shower. The goal is the gently massage the eye lids towards the lash-line in order to release some of the built-up oil.
Blepharitis = inflammation. Manage the inflammation and you manage the condition. A course of mild steroid eye drops will often kick-start an effective treatment plan. Your therapeutically-endorsed optometrist will be able to prescribe these for you.
BlephEx and Eye Lid Descaling
Stubborn eye lid disease can respond very well to regular descaling of the biofilm that builds up at the base of the eye lashes.
A professional in-house BlephEx treatment will leave your eye lids squeaky clean - much like your teeth after you've been to the dental hygienist.
Some people benefit from twice-annual eye lid descaling with this method. Others may only require occasional treatment.
Blepharitis is commonly associated with demodex. This is very well treated using an eye lid descaling procedure (such as BlephEx) combined with tea tree oil.
The Eye Practice was the first clinic in Australia to implement BlephEx. Combining BlephEx with ophthalmic tea tree oil wipes at home will bring this dreaded eye condition under control.
Suffered long enough from red, crusted, inflamed eye lids?
Contact The Eye Practice on (02) 9290 1899 or make an appointment online with one of our friendly, professional optometrists.
PLEASE READ: The information given under Eye Conditions is of a general nature and is not intended to be advice on any particular matter. Please take the appropriate Optometrical advice before acting on any information given under Eye Conditions of The Eye Practice web-site.